In the realm of 19th Century firearms engraving, few name carry the weight of the Ulrich brothers. This was a point driven further home recently at the Rock Island Auction Company.
One of the top drawing items of the Illinois auction house’s first event of the 2015 staged Feb. 19-22, was a beautiful specimen of John Ulrich’s work. The silver-plated Winchester Model 1866 rifle, complete with a factory letter of authentication, drew one of the top bids of the historic event.
The lever-action featuring magnificent scroll work surrounding an elk on the left side panel crossed the block for $28,875. But it was not the only classic American firearm to demand top dollar at RIA’s first ever four-day event.
When everything was said and done, the company had moved $5.6 million in firearms, firearms accessories and military collectables.
Early in the auction, a Civil War Henry Rifle drew a winning bid of $25,875. Manufactured in 1864, the .44 caliber rimfire was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company and was of a vintage to have perhaps seen action in the American Civil War.
As a sidenote on Henry rifles, while the U.S. Army did buy a number of them, few were ever issued. The soldiers themselves privately purchased most, many with money from reenlistment bounties, according to some sources.
While not commanding as high a price as the lever-actions, another American icon did catch plenty of eyes. A gold-finished Thompson 1927A1, or Tommy Gun, initiated a fierce bidding war before finally being captured for $5,175. The rather flamboyant firearm came with all the accouterments, including 50-round drum magazine and violin carrying case.
Of the pistols RIA moved at the auction, a pair of Colt Diamondback revolvers far exceeded their estimated price. The double-action handguns, chambered in .22 Long Rifle, found a new home for the princely sum of $4,025.
It was a Borchardt C-93, however that turned out to be the bell of the ball for handguns. The Ludwig Loewe semi-automatic pistol commanded a $10,925 sale price, nearly $3,500 more than expected.
The C-93 was a particularly desirable example given the toggle-lock pistol's (chambered 7.63x25mm Borchardt) serial number. With just three digits, the pistol was certainly one of the early one to roll off the Ludwig Loewe line.
RIA also moved some obscure – at least by modern standards – firearms. In this category, a Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle took the cake, exiting the door for $12,650. The company also moved a U.S. Ordnance semi-auto replica Vickers Machine gun with tripod and accessories for $7,475.
There were also a number of knives and artifacts that came across the block, including: Nazi-style daggers ($8,625), German dagger and sword accouterments ($8,625) and a flintlock pistol axe combination ($5,462).
RIA's next event will be held April 24-26.